Monday, January 31, 2011

Canning and Freezing

I love summer harvest time!  We can and freeze a lot around here.  We go to local farmer's markets or pick-your-own farms and stock up on fruits, berries, and veggies.  Whatever we can't grow ourselves, we buy locally.

Freezing: Most fruits and berries freeze wonderfully!  Wash them, slice them (for fruits), put them on cookie sheets, flash freeze them, bag them in freezer bags, and stick them in the freezer to have all year long!  (Don't forget to mark the year you froze them, things can get lost in those nice chest freezers.)

Green beans and peas freeze wonderfully too.  These have an added step of blanching them.  That's cooking them just slightly (don't cook completely or you'll have mush) before flash freezing them.

Canning:  Some day I will get a pressure cooker to can more items.  For the moment we use a boiling method to can.  We make our own jams, jellies, and sauces.  I haven't had to buy any of those items since we started making our own.  We also like to give them as gifts.  (Remember my post about gifts?)  You make a small investment in jars and lids and then you need pectin for stability (for jams and jellies).  You can make jams and jellies from just about any fruit or berry you want.  We also use our homegrown tomatoes and peppers to make salsa.

My Grandma first showed me how to can when I was little.  I'd help her pick the berries from Grandpa's garden, wash, mash, strain, etc.  It was wonderful!  (Although I'm sure I was a messy little "helper.")  She never minded, just cleaned up afterward.  The best part was that she would talk me through the steps and explain the why of everything.  I loved this special time with Grandma at the end of summer.  I have several canning recipes from both my Grandma and my DH's Grandma which is a great treasure.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Buy Bulk

I buy just about everything I can in bulk.  I can get organic flour for less than the prepackaged regular stuff.  You can invest in some nice canisters or just have bags in your pantry.  My DH found some great glass canisters on a great deal for flour and sugar so I don't have to haul out a huge bag every time I want to bake.

Some of the regular grocery stores are getting into bulk items.  Just be savvy about it and know if you are actually getting a good deal.  Just because it is in the bulk section doesn't mean it is automatically less expensive (especially if you're considering upgrading to organic).  I have noticed that my local co-op and natural foods stores have more bulk items and for less money.  I can get just about anything bulk.  Dried fruit, protein powder (great for shakes), pasta, flour of every type, cereal, granola, etc.  In fact, I have shopping list for the three stores I visit based upon where I can get the best deal.  They all have bulk but I can get flour cheaper at one place and another has dried fruit for less.  Being organized helps me save money.


Word to the wise about flour, put bay leaves in it.  Don't eat them, but they will keep bugs from visiting, living in, and eating off your flour (more common in spring/summer).  I don't know about you, but I have a hard time eating that flour once bugs have been eating it.  Bay Leaves.  Works every time.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Ethnic Foods

Shop your local ethnic food store if you have one.  You may be surprised to see how close one actually is to you.  The foods there cost MUCH less than at your regular grocery store. 

If you do a search and can't find a local grocery store, ask someone at your local ethnic restaurant where the store is hidden.  Chances are they buy from somewhere local and can help you out.

We make many Asian and Mexican dishes and I buy what I need at our local ethnic stores.  My son loves these outings as well as he usually gets a bag of his favorite Korean snack.  ^_^

Friday, January 21, 2011

Dollar Store

A word about dollar stores.  They are not all created equal.  Some are, what I refer to as, the dollar plus store because you may be hard pressed to actually find anything in there that is a dollar.  In fact, the only thing that I like from our local "dollar plus" store are the baby wipes.  Cheapest around.

One dollar store will not be carrying what the dollar store down the street is carrying.  So check them out and see what they have.  I have found that a store tends to carry a "theme" of items.  Perhaps they specialize in crafts, or greeting cards, or house hold items, or car gear, or groceries, etc.  I know which dollar store I need to go to for certain items.

Also, if you're going to a dollar store or a big lots or whatever type of discount store is by you, don't assume it's a good price!  Know your prices.  And if you buy food there, check the expiration dates.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Inexpensive Decorating

I felt like decorating my kitchen.  So I headed to one of my dollar stores, and I picked up some wall decals.  For $3 I got a great looking kitchen!  And I can change it whenever I want.


I have also done stenciling in my house.  This was fun to do and all I did was simply talked around and made it known that I wanted to stencil.  I then got offers from people "oh I have some stencils you can borrow."  Which is great, because the actual stencils are expensive.  So I got to stencil for next to nothing.  I gave the person some money to pay for the paints I used.  No overhead cost to me!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Darn those socks

No really, darn them.  I think this is a lost art.  We throw socks away when they get a hole, we don't sew them back up or darn the holes.  You don't even need fancy equipment, if you don't have a darning ball/mushroom, use a lightbulb.  Then stitch up that sock.  I got many a wary eye in college from people passing my dorm room but I had hole free socks!  If you aren't sure where to start, this video shows the basics.

Friday, January 14, 2011


As we've had a number of illnesses running through our house, we've gone through a fair amount of juice.  So let me tell you about juice!

I first off, love the V8 and Ocean Spray fruit and veggie blends.  I find that Ocean Spray is generally cheaper but sales and coupons sometime make V8 win out.  I have declared this juice "hands off" to everyone but our son.  Super picky eater toddler and this is a way to get some veggies in him.

For the rest of us in the house, we get the frozen concentrate.  Because really, many of the pre-made juices are from concentrate but cost 2-3 times as much.  I stock up when they have them on sale and keep a stash in my deep freezer.  When mixing it I have found that adding 1/2 cup extra of water will make it go a little bit longer.  But generally I can't go a full cup extra as then it looses it's taste quality.  (Again, going to cheap and not staying frugal.)  Unless you like watery tasting juice then have at it!  ^_^

Thursday, January 13, 2011


If you air out your soap it will harden and last longer. I have a mesh bag under my sink with soap. The mesh is small enough to keep the soap clean too.

When you get to the end of a bar of soap, what do you do with it? I like to put it in a sponge. Get a bath sponge at the dollar store, cut a slit in it, put the soap fragments in it, and use it in the shower. It lathers us nicely.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011


I love coupons!  I love double coupon days! I love free sample days!

Things to know about coupons.

  • If you don't normally buy it, don't bother clipping the coupon for it (the generic brand is probably still cheaper even with the coupon)
  • If you normally buy it, clip it!
  • Organize your coupons and keep it in your purse or with your shopping list (if you can't find the coupon, you can't use it right?) 
  • Find out when double coupon day is at your local store and then shop that day
  • And don't forget to use reusable bags, many places give 5-10 cents a bag (sometimes you have to remind them)
  • What is your favorite brand?  Chances are they have a website and a Facebook page.  Check it out and you can usually get some great coupons through their mailing list, email list, or Facebook special.  (And if it is something you use a lot of, print multiple copies of it to use for future shopping trips.)

Tuesday, January 11, 2011


Did someone give you one of those daily calendars?  It has a fun quote on it every day or a comic or something else.  Keep those and use the backside for notes, shopping lists, doddle pad for the kids, little love notes in your dear hubby's lunch, etc.

Monday, January 10, 2011

When I've Crossed the Line

This post is in memory of my dad who would always remind us "Be frugal, not cheap." 

I usually know when I've "crossed that line" into cheapness.  Like when I bought that value pack of Babies R Us diapers and if I didn't know better I could have sworn that I put the diaper on inside out...(and they weren't all that much more inexpensive than Huggies by the way).  Or that value pack of paper towels of the "Clear Value (R)" brand and they are almost like not using anything at all to clean up messes.  Cheap.  No longer a deal when I have to use twice or more as normal to get the job done.  And I can say that I'm not going to purchase that brand again as I've had a number of bad encounters with their products.  Shortning being another one...

The store brand for many of the same items is only a few cents more and usually of a higher quality so I get that.  But a word to the wise, check the label.  Usually items are very similar but not always.  Sometimes one item will sneak in something nasty like MSG or high fructose corn syrup.  Or maybe they both have HFCS but it is the first or second ingredient for the one and the second to last for the other (thus signifying less of the substance).  I've found that by reading labels I can pick the healthier item and sometimes it surprises me that it is the more generic brand.  So read labels!

There are some things I don't skimp on.  Milk, meat, apples, and potatoes.  All suffer from high levels of something like pesticides, hormones, etc.  Apples and potatoes are the most susceptible to pesticides.  You can't buy everything organic but these are ones you should try to find organic so that you're not feeding your family a vial of nasties with their food.  Both freeze really well too.  I grow potatoes and enjoy them when in season.  When it gets to the end of the season I make a big batch of mashed potatoes and then freeze them in smaller containers.  Lasts until the next season.  Apples work great in sauces, etc.  And those all freeze really well too.  Most areas have a local farmer's market where you can get apples for under $1/lb when in season.

Milk and meat might surprise you.  I have learned through the years, mostly but trial and error, which are good and which are bad.  I have endometriosis and can tell within 30 minutes of eating either of those items if they've had hormones added to them (one of the benefits of having a messed up body ^_~).  I get all my meat from Whole Foods or the Outpost.  I stock up when it is on sale.  If you shop around you can find organic meat for just as cheap as the "other stuff."  I also like Sassy Cow and Whole Food's 365 milk.  And they cost just the same as the "other stuff."  I believe in good milk and meat so much, I will give up most other things before giving these up.  What good is it to save a few pennies or even a dollar if it means feeding your family the equivalent of a birth control pill with every glass of milk or hamburger?  Endo Assoc.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Thrifty Fun

As we've been passing around some sort of nasty sickness in our family, I've been a little busy.  So I'm going to cheat and put this nifty saying out from

Work Smarter Not Harder

Wages used to the best of our ability.
Own outright as much as we can.
Rely on God
Keep finances and financial goals in perspective.

Save what we can honestly set aside each pay.
Measure of our earnings for others.
Advice from the Bible, books, websites, trusted people.
Remember past dollar mistakes and learn from them.
Tithe always. (Always!  Giving up tithing is not a way to save money.  You have an income, you tithe.)
Extra money save half and/or put extra on a bill.
Record what you spend.

Never give up. You may have to regroup, but NEVER give up.
Organization saves $$$ and time.
Thankful for my job and God's provision

Happy with what we have.
Ask before we buy - something else to use? Do we really need?
Realistic goals, set 'em!
Discover what motivates you to save.
Energize and stay focused with short term goals.
Reap the benefits of finances in order.

By Sheryl from Columbus, OH

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Disposals and Sinks

This is a tip from my Grandma S about garbage disposals.  First of all, if you have one (which I currently don't but wish I had) I hope you know you are supposed to run it on occasion.  Always run it with water.

If your garbage disposal starts to smell, run some citrus peels through it.

If you don't have a garbage disposal and your sink starts to smell, pour baking soda and lemon juice down the drain.  Let it sit for a while before running water through it.  Vinegar will also work if you don't have lemon juice but won't smell as nice (in my opinion).